A 193-member U.N. General Assembly vote on a draft resolution calling “for an immediate suspension of the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons and munitions” to Myanmar has been postponed. The draft resolution calls on the Myanmar military – which seized power in a 1 February 2021 coup – to end a state of emergency, stop all violence against peaceful protesters and respect the will of the people as expressed in the results of a November election.

What

  1. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but carry political weight. Unlike the 15-member Security Council, no country has a veto power in the General Assembly.
  2. Myanmar has been in crisis since the army ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and detained her and officials of her National League for Democracy party.
  3. The U.N. draft text calls for their release. The military, which has set up a ruling junta of generals, complained of fraud in the November election that returned Suu Kyi to power.
  4. The election commission said the vote was fair. The draft General Assembly resolution “calls upon the Myanmar armed forces to immediately stop all violence against peaceful demonstrators, members of civil society, women, youth, as well as children and others.
  5. The U.N. text also urges the army to stop “attacks on, harassment of and restrictions on medical personnel, human rights defenders, labor union members, journalists and media workers … and restrictions on the internet and social media”.
  6. If adopted, the draft resolution would urge the military to allow a visit by the U.N. special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, and implement a plan by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to end the crisis.
  7. The United States, Britain and Canada on 17 May 2021 imposed new sanctions targeting Myanmar’s junta.
  8. Only the U.N. Security Council can impose legally binding sanctions or an arms embargo, but diplomats say Russia and China could likely use their veto to prevent such action on Myanmar.